The project seeks to improve the living conditions – and reducing the vulnerability – of vulnerable children in the Southern Province of Rwanda, and by doing so, reducing poverty in Rwanda. The main objectives are to strengthen the capacity of volunteers, pursue the financial autonomy of the beneficiaries, and to strengthen the capacities of the Rwandan Red Cross in project monitoring, evaluation and reporting. In Rwanda 20.5% of orphans and vulnerable children have lost one or both of their parents, 600 000 children do not attend secondary school and 100 000 do not attend primary school, 15 000 Rwandan children act as household heads. The vast majority of orphans and vulnerable children are affected by acute poverty. The number of orphans and vulnerable children under 15 years is estimated to have reached 1.5 million in 2010 and the number of orphans due to AIDS represents over 52% of the total number of orphans. In Rwanda, HIV/AIDS is one of the four main causes of death. The vulnerability of children in the Southern province of Rwanda is increased due to a number of them working in hard conditions, such as in quarries, tea plantations, as domestics or as child soldiers. Furthermore, they are exposed to poverty, malnutrition, and limited access to health care, education, drinking water and sanitation. E.g. many children travel several kilometres each day in order to draw drinking water.
Community awareness raising sessions will address issues such as hygiene in the household, reproductive health, malaria and AIDS prevention, children’s rights, and nutrition. The volunteers are organized into groups: 150 nkundabana mothers, 30 peer educators, 30 health and hygiene volunteers, and 6 volunteers specialized in education, income generating activities, and monitoring. Orphans and vulnerable children will be provided social support by Red Cross volunteers and the project team. The most vulnerable of them will receive more intensive support, including financial support and vocational training.
The project is a joint effort by the Rwandan Red Cross and the Belgian Red Cross. The community awareness raising sessions targets 2 400 members of the communities from the 6 targeted sectors. 216 volunteers will receive refresher training courses. The direct beneficiaries are 4 500 orphans and vulnerable children, of which 250-300 are affected by the disease. Because it is difficult to estimate the number of children who take care of family members affected by AIDS, the project supports all vulnerable children in the target area in order to prevent stigmatisation.